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Alex P. Haley, author of Roots and the Autobiography of Malcolm X, died in Seattle, WA, on this date in 1992.

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Alexander Murphy Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. He was the oldest child of Simon Alexander and Bertha Palmer Haley. At the time of his birth, his father was a graduate student at Cornell University and his mother was a music teacher.

As a young boy, Alex Haley first learned of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, by listening to the family stories of his maternal grandparants while spending his summers in Henning, Tennessee. According to family history, Kunta Kinte landed with other Gambian Africans in “Napolis” (Annapolis, Maryland) where he was sold into slavery.

Alex Haley’s quest to learn more about his family history resulted in his writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Roots.

The book has been published in 37 languages, and was made into the first week-long television mini-series, viewed by an estimated 130 million people. Roots also generated widespread interest in genealogy.

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